Directed By: Paul Anderson
Written By: Philip Eisner
I watched this movie when it first came to home video in 1998 and it scared me so bad it’s taken me 15 years to come back for seconds. I was 13 or 14 when I first saw it and at that age I would never admit how bad it scared me but I can admit it now. This movie literally scared the ever loving shit out of me and watching it last night did bring some of that fear back to me. Of course I’m not scared now the way I was when I was young but there was a nostalgic feeling of fear that came over me while we watched it. There are so many creepy things in this movie and I can really see why and how it got to me so bad as a kid. There are a few things wrong with this film but that doesn’t change the effect it will have on you. This movie is scary as hell, literally, and that makes it an excellent movie for the season.
In this movie we see the fears of the characters come to life right before their eyes. For reasons they don’t understand they are suddenly having hallucinations of their greatest fears. With a variety of different fears the movie is able to hit on several levels to get to everyone in the audience one way or another. If the burning man that appears before Laurence Fishburne or the kid that Kathleen Quinlan sees don’t get to you then Sam Niell’s eye gauging definitely will. For me, one of the scariest parts was when Neill is down in that tiny tunnel and starts hearing things. He looks around in this small space that he could easily get lost in and he isn’t sure if he is actually hearing things or if he is just panicking. That kind of fear, the type when you are all alone in a scary place and unsure what’s going on really gets to me. The not knowing if something is really there or if it’s all in your head is terrifying under those circumstances. After all these years it still makes me cringe.
I heard once that there was something like 30 minutes cut from this film specifically to get it down to an R rating. I don’t know where that time would have fit in but if I had to guess I would think it came from the video of the lost crew. When they finally clean up the image enough to see what happened what they see if horrifying. There is a man who has pulled his own eyes out and is holding them in his hand while chanting creepy Latin phrases. There appears to be some raping going on, everyone is screaming, and flames blaze in the background. These people had accidentally traveled into Hell and the consequences were frightening. I imagine there was plenty in that scene that might have been deemed too much for the theater audience by the MPAA.
I think where this film goes wrong is in the ending, but I’m inclined to chalk it up to being a product of its time. In the end the tone changes to something like Laurence Fishburne vs. Sam Neill when that shouldn’t be the case. Yes Sam Neill was simply the image taken by the ship but there should be no one against the other. There should only be Neill i.e. the ship dispatching Laurence Fishburne in horrifying fashion. How could anybody hope to fight back against a ship that has transformed into an evil object by travelling to Hell and back? It shouldn’t be possible and there should be no room for the type of heroics we see from Fishburne in the end. I like that in the end the ship is still alive and the nightmare continues for the survivors, but what precedes it almost makes it loose its flavor. There is a theme in far too many horror films that the good guy has to win. Freddy is eventually beaten by the teenagers he torments, Jason is eventually beaten by the teenagers he torments, Mike Myers is eventually beaten by the teenagers he torments……..Laurence Fishburne needed to have a fist fight with a demonic Sam Neill in the climax of this film. That’s just how it was done in the 90s. I tend to find the no win scenario much scarier and we see more of that these days.
I think Laurence Fishburne was great in this movie, until the end when he has his hero moment that is. I have always been a fan of Fishburne because I come from the generation of The Matrix, and Morpheus can do no wrong. Of course that isn’t true though; Fishburne has become irrelevant over the years as Morpheus got further and further away in the rear view. He got an important part in Man of Steel though, and whether he was the right choice or not is irrelevant. It’s an opportunity, and I hope it gets him back into the limelight in the future. Sam Neill just has a look to him that really shows the potential for being evil. I thought he was awesome in In the Mouth of Madness and I think he specifically looks wicked in this movie both with and without eyes. With the lacerated face he looks beyond wicked and something more like demonic. Neill really hasn’t had many memorable roles in his career but when he gets a good one he plays it to the fullest. This film is a good example of that.
Aside from those two there are several other cast members who many will recognize. Of course Kathleen Quinlan tops that list. She was past her prime when this movie came out but she is a great actress with a long and distinguished career. Lucius Malfoy is also seen in the background long before he was made relatively popular by the Harry Potter films. I am talking about Jason Isaacs, who recently starred in a network TV show I didn’t watch, I think it was called Awake. Joely Richardson has one of the more significant roles in this film being one of the two final “survivors.” I was a big fan of Richardson from her work on Nip/Tuck. That show went on for far too long and her character was not always written in the brightest light. That’s putting it nicely really, they writers loved to make this woman about as slutty as she could get. I think if they could have gotten away with it she probably would have engaged in a relationship with her own son. Still, for a long time I was a big fan of the show and I liked her role on in despite what they had her do.
This is a scary movie. In fact it is probably far and away the scariest of all the movies we have watched for this month so far. It has a bit of a science fiction feel to it that but that doesn’t take away from the horror effect. Science fiction and horror are often intertwined together with great success. This movie doesn’t qualify as a success because it was a box office bomb but it succeeds where it matters. Check this one out if you are looking for something to scare you as Halloween approaches and you won’t be disappointed.
Apparently this was a horror movie. I am almost certain this should be qualified as a sci-fi movie. Of course, I fell asleep before it all went horrible, infinitely, wrong. (See what I did there?) I didn’t get to see all the gruesome horror, but apparently it must be a gory movie because under the Halloween titles in Netflix, they have this one listed as bloody and gory.
Here is the poster for this movie. They made the characters blue and faded them out. I think you guys know how I feel about floating people. However these floating people are technically in space so that provides a little bit of self controversy. I don’t know what to think about that. I hate, however, HATE that they colored the whole poster blue to create that mood. You can do that without colorizing the whole thing people. Stop taking the easy way out. The font isn’t anything special, just another techy font. You can find them for free all over the place. I just realized there was a planet behind their heads. I HATE THIS POSTER. What a terrible way to try and get people in to see this film.